On Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
I am a nonbinary, neurodivergent, queer artist. From the public's perspective, the most contentious aspects of my identity are hidden behind a wall of convention. My disability is hidden. I am partnered with a man, and I present as a white woman. I benefit from my privilege but didn’t recognize this until a few years ago when I began graduate school. I had struggled for years to find my authentic self, and all I saw was my own struggle. Once the media and art I consumed began reflecting more diverse identities, I became emboldened to upend my perspective and redirect my artistic goals. It also enlightened me to my entitlement and ignorance. It took artists much bolder and braver than I, for me to understand that the safety, support, and space my privilege afforded me is not universal. Historically underrepresented communities have had their artistic voices stifled by privileged bystanders who are more afraid of discomfort than supportive of progress. I am humbly committed to uplifting artists who fight this fight. I am committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the performing arts and arts education because I believe art is a crucial tool for social change, and that neglecting this truth is damaging and dangerous.
I have been very fortunate to have academic mentors who promote inclusive pedagogical approaches. In my first year of graduate school, I crafted a syllabus for a political play analysis course with works exclusively by female-identifying playwrights of color. This energized me to learn more about noneuro-centric theatrical canons and promote them in my curriculum. In my third year, I codirected a virtual devised production that shed light on overshadowed news stories of historically marginalized groups. This project enlightened me to the potential of theatre to expand students’ global perspectives.
Similar to my mentors, I seek to be a source of support for my students and mentees. I am part of the LGBTQIA+ community and am particularly drawn to gender politics and representation in theatre. Because of this, I mentor students who wish to challenge gendered casting traditions as they carve out their unique places in the contemporary theatre world. I’m excited that theatre departments are working on broadening their representation and look forward to supporting this social evolution over the course of my career.
I believe humility and flexibility are some of the most important skills an educator can practice to nurture and celebrate diversity, equity, and inclusion. Throughout the semester, I individualize goals and use multiple pedagogical techniques as well as one-on-one mentorship to support diverse learning styles. I lead with questions to get to know my students so that their unique identities may shape and inform the content I present. I include introverted as well as extroverted activities to suit students’ learning preferences. It’s vital to acknowledge the lack of diversity in the Western theatrical cannon, and I make room for this conversation in my classroom. It’s equally essential to ensure that diverse theatre makers hold a strong place in my curriculum.
I am still learning much about diversity, equity, and inclusion in theatre, but I am humbly and enthusiastically committed to this process of growth. Through transparent communication, support for underrepresented groups, and continued education on current issues, I seek to be the kind of artist-educator who uplifts and gives voice to people who have been stifled in the past. I am committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion because I don’t want to be the kind of professor who is baffled at a student’s fear. I want to be a professor who hears them and, even if I cannot understand through experience, is committed to being part of the solution.